Technology is a wonderful thing. As far as the publishing industry goes, electronic devices and e-books have given readers more options than ever before. I have to admit I spend way too much time searching for books to load on my device.
From a parenting perspective, however, new technology has created greater challenges. Visit schools these days and you are bound to see several young people reading on some type of electronic device. These devices allow them to search for books of interest. They can, however, easily stumble upon inappropriate reading material.
This week my Lil Princess used her device to search for “free children’s books.” She found one with a cartoonish cover that looked like it might interest her, so she downloaded it. With the device tucked in her coat pocket, she went to school this morning and began reading. When she came home, she showed me a naughty word in the book. Skimming through the book’s pages, I discovered this “children’s book” was really a raunchy, humorous book for adults. It just happened to have an illustrated cover that made it look like it was for kids. I commended the Lil Princess for bringing it to my attention and requested she delete it right away, which she did.
This isn’t like going to the library or a store and seeing what you’re getting before taking it home. This is a portable device that allows children to download games, applications, and books that might be outside of their parents’ rules of acceptability. And that truly hit home for me today when I saw what my daughter had downloaded.
Guidelines need to be set and then discussed with children before they download anything. Our new guidelines:
- We will make time each week to sit down and scan available titles the girls are interested in reading.
- If the girls want to download a book when we aren’t around, they can’t read it until my husband or I has a chance to skim through it.
These two simple rules should avoid most of the problems. We will also continue to encourage our girls to bring inappropriate material to our attention and praise them for doing so.
Keeping our children safe, while allowing them to embrace new technology, is a goal our family strives for.